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Conservation Biology

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Session: 

  • Session B: July 27 – August 6, 2020

Time: 

  • 9:30 a.m. - 12 p.m.

Category: 

  • Sciences

Instructor: 

  • Heather Kostick
Module Description: 

This module will introduce students to the biology of conservation issues as they relate to environmental studies. Core concepts will include evolution, biodiversity, ecology, conservation, land and wildlife management, ecological restoration, climate change, and pertinent U.S. laws and regulations. Through a combination of lectures, discussion groups, and readings, students will develop a broad understanding of conservation and environmental issues on a global and local scale. Combined with case studies, virtually viewing plants and wildlife specimens, and conducting independent research, students will interact and engage with abstract concepts on a direct level. Throughout this course, students will hone the analytical, research, and presentation skills necessary to design and deliver a capstone research project/presentation outlining a conservation issue of their choice.

Abstract

Conservation Biology is a module that will cover the basic subject concepts, case studies, job opportunities, making impacts in local communities and on a global scale, and will allow students the opportunity to conduct their own research and present it to the class. Students will spend time listening to lectures, participating in discussion groups, handling/viewing plants and wildlife specimens, and conducting their own research. The main goals of this module are to show students that they make impacts on the environment in their everyday choices; that they have the potential to change their communities; and that there are careers in the field.

Goals for Students

  • To understand basic conservation biology concepts and have a broad understanding of what issues are prevalent in the world.
  • To know that they can have a direct positive impact on their environment in their own backyards.
  • To expose them to the job and volunteer opportunities in the field both globally and locally.
  • To give them practical public speaking practice in the form of a group presentation.

Assignments

Group Research Projects presented Day 8 (feedback on Day 9)
Students will be expected to pick a location and find a conservation issue that is relevant to that location. On day 8, students will present their topics. Students will work in groups of 2-4 on the issue of their choice, and have 12 minutes to present their topic in front of the class. Each student will spend a minimum of 2 minutes talking and each group must turn in a list of 15 sources (4 of which must be scientific articles). Group size will depend on class size.

Journals due Day 8 (given back with comments on Day 9)
In addition to the readings, I am encouraging the students to go outside for 20-30 minutes a day, take a walk, and write down what they observe about nature while they walk. Observations can include weather, plants, wildlife, other people, how the walk made them feel, and any other interesting observations. 

Readings discussions Day 2, Day 3, Day 5, and Day 7
Students will be assigned readings, and will be expected to discuss them in four of the classes. The reading materials will be representative of what university students are learning from in the field, and how conservation biologists stay “inthe-know” on current topics, issues, and events. We will spend 15-20 minutes for those four classes discussing the readings, and adjust the lecture accordingly. Readings will include:
The Biodiversity of Life – E. O. Wilson
Bringing Nature Home – Doug Tallamy
Silent Spring – Rachel Carson
A Sand County Almanac – Aldo Leopold
Scientific Journals
News Articles
National Geographic Articles

Syllabus

Day 1: Introduction to Conservation Biology
Introduce myself to students
Ask students to introduce themselves
Basic Conservation Biology concepts                      
US Laws & Regulations 
Introduce student projects & journal writing

Students will be expected to pick a location and find a conservation issue that is relevant to that location. On day 8, students will present their topics. Students will work in groups of 2-4 on the issue of their choice, and have 12 minutes to present their topic in front of the class. Each student will spend a minimum of 2 minutes talking and each group must turn in a list of 15 sources (4 of which must be scientific articles). Group size will depend on class size.

In addition to the readings, I am encouraging the students to go outside for 20-30 minutes a day, take a walk, and write down what they observe about nature while they walk. Observations can include weather, plants, wildlife, other people, how the walk made them feel, and any other interesting observations. Students will be encouraged to take detailed notes, draw pictures, and write whatever comes to mind on their daily walks. This journal should encourage them to get outside more and reflect on how they feel when they are outside in nature.

Day 2: Local Issues & Case Studies
Philadelphia
Window Strike Project at Penn
Shoemaker Green and Penn Park
Philadelphia Parks
Pennsylvania – White-Tailed Deer
Mid-Atlantic/Eastern US – Logging and forest composition
US - Bald Eagles

Day 3: Global Issues & Case Studies
Great Barrier Reef
Arctic Seabirds
Sea Level Rise and the Issues Associated with It
Illegal Ivory Trade

Day 4: Individual Projects & Group Meeting Time, and Environmental Education
Check in on Individual Projects; Answer questions; Talk about information sources
Allow students to meet in their groups and go over their progress
Begin talking about Environmental Education     

Day 5: Environmental Education (EE) & Vertebrate Zoology Introduction
EE: How Students Can Make a Direct Impact
Bioblitzes
Examples of Internships Available in the Philadelphia Area, how to get involved with local organizations, bringing nature into Philadelphia and increasing diversity within the field

Day 6: Flora & Fauna – Native Plants, Biodiversity 

Native plants: importance, usefulness, defining native versus invasive versus non-native
Talking about biodiversity in the Philadelphia Area
Wildlife in the city
Wildlife outside of the city
Show examples of plants & wildlife
Spend last 45 minutes of class in Shoemaker Green and Penn Park area looking at efforts by university to increase native plant presence and biodiversity (maybe see if Chloe Cerwinka – FRES is available to talk for a few minutes about their efforts)

Day 7: Jobs in Conservation Biology
Networking, Conferences, and Field Experience
Colleges/University searches

Day 8: Presentation of Projects
Each group has 12 minutes plus 2 for questions for presentations
Students must turn in a source list in APA format at the beginning of class

Day 9: Course Recap, Final Thoughts, and Videos
Birding with Matt Halley – 9:00am-10:00am (TBD) Hand back evaluations on presentations
Final questions & discussion
Leave time for videos/documentaries on conservation

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